tv [untitled] April 10, 2013 5:30am-6:00am PDT
declarations and cat ex's. so, it would again seem simply fair to allow full debate of those big questions that are encompassed by supervisor kim's legislation as well. i strongly urge you to hold action today until both supervisor kim's and your legislation is before us so that we can see how both deal with the critically important question of full e-i-rs. thank you. >> thank you. next speaker, mr. brookes. good evening, supervisors. eric brookes representing san francisco green party, local grassroots organization. our city and earth quart nater, the community ceqa improvement team. first of all, i want to reiterate what a couple other speakers on this side of the aisle said, which is that we realize that there are some problems that for a few people really cause a nightmare and we realize that this needs to be fixed. we realize that cat ex's and
negative declarations need an improved process. and let me assure you that the legislation that we have helped craft that will be coming from supervisor kim's office is not going to be a piece of legislation that is going to allow a problem like discovering a rotting wall to really mess things up for a homeowner that wants to fix their house. that's not in our interest. we won't support legislation that causes that kind of a problem. so, i think folks should rest assured that the super improvement team is not going to put its stamp of approval on something that would cause that sort of a problem. and i think we can figure out a way to work those things out. and i want to get to the most important point, and that is the first approval and how that relates to noticing. you know, when you trigger the appeals clock at the first approval at the very beginning
of the process, that inherently zaps months of noticing and sometimes years of noticing, years of preparation that people need to understand what's going to happen, not with these little projects, but with kind of gray area and large projects where profound changes will happen. we must have a final approval trigger that is well defined so that during that buildup process to the end as the project changes, we can still appeal it and not allow disasters to go forward. and that is what -- [inaudible]. >> thank you. thank you, mr. brookes. thank you. next speaker. good afternoon, supervisors. my name is roby [speaker not understood]. i'm an architectural historian but i'm not here speaking to you as that today. i'm speaking as an elected executive board member of the health care workers union here
in san francisco seiuhw, not in an official capacity, but as a representative in that union of working people who are the majority of the people of this city, two-thirds renting. the city, first of all, is a place of living and the people that seem to be so hyped to push this through are connected one way or another with the development process as either a profit making or in other ways. so, i would urge that the issue be continued so that we can have a more full discussion. it's very important that this go forward in a way that improves and not tightens down on the ceqa process. having spent time, you know, using that process, i was pretty horrified and a lot of things, i know there's things that need to be done. but in your legislation, supervisor wiener, it seems
like you're approaching this like your proposition e and f where things are thrown in here that does not expand and improve the ceqa process in the city, but rather tightens down timelines, throws in other curves and takes away the chance for a wider exposition of the issues that have to be considered. it's very important that we keep san francisco, first of all, as a place to live. and, you know, if we can make a buck, that's fine, too. thank you. >> sir, can i just clarify something? are you here as an individual or on behalf of unitedhealth care workers? i'm here as an individual. i think i made that clear. >> unitedhealth care workers taken a position on this legislation? no, they have not. >> thank you for that clarification. it was a little unclear. i'm glad i verified that for you. >> next speaker.
good evening, supervisors. my name is kieran buckley. i'm a small vendor. [speaker not understood]. and i think you're going the right direction, supervisor wiener, with this. i think if you look at the first speaker there gave a good example of how difficult it can be as a homeowner and when it -- it can drag out forever and cost a lot of money. and it ends up costing the -- sometimes it will end up costing the person who borrows a lot of money when it drag on like that. so, basically [speaker not understood]. thank you for your time. >> thank you very much. supervisor. mr. chairman, mr. president, supervisor, madam clerk, deputy city attorneys, my name is aaron peskin.
i have met with myself and i am representing myself. [laughter] so, let me do a little history, a little good, a little bad, a little ugly. on the history, as you know, ceqa was amended in 1999 to allow e-i-rs to appeal from nonelected bodies to elected bodies. the board of supervisors, not in 2006, but 2001 adopted legislation that allowed for said appeals that are set forth in 31.16. let me commend all of you, supervisor kim, mr. chairman, and the entire board, for grappling with an issue that the board that i served on grappled with for 12 years. i introduced one. i failed. fiona ma introduced one, she failed. ma kelp a introduced one after i left the board. she failed. i think you guys can get this done. that is the good. let me deal with the bad. 31.16 which has worked just fine for 12 years ~ and let me
associate myself with comments of mr. welch, needs not be changed, not one word of it, supervisor wiener. let me deal with the ugly. i would respectfully suggest, mr. president, that in the new age of conciliatory behavior, that members of the public like mike casey and like the last gentleman who spoke, not be questioned in such an aggressive and offensive way. or alternatively, that individuals -- and let me name names like frank noto who is being paid for his behavior -- be addressed in the same way. thank you for the opportunity to address you. i suggest you continue this item. i hope that you can resolve this in a reasonable amount of time. if i were president of the board, i would say it could be done in two or three weeks. thank you. >> thank you. next speaker. good evening, supervisors.
my name is [speaker not understood]. i'm a contractor/developer. supervisor wiener, i'd like to thank you for bringing this forward. i've been developing buildings here in the city for the last 20 years and this has just been going on and on. the one thing we want to, when we have finished the process, the approval process, we do not want ceqa to continue afterwards because as a developer, we see that as a way of prolonging and delaying the project. can he westbound in the middle of construction at this stage. we can have three sides addendums. we can be halfway through framing the building and that type of stuff. we have to find a way, and i think 30 days appeal process and the first approval process to appeal it is a good system. you know, we can appeal to the board of supervisors or to the board of appeals in 15 days. nobody has a problem putting everything together.
we can appeal drs, there are so many appeal periods. when we pick up a permit to do some work, a small remodel or something, we have 180 days to do the work. there is a time limit. but first we have here at the moment with ceqa is an unending time limit that we don't know how to deal with it. so, i want to thank you for bringing this forward and hopefully we can get clarity and move forward with something that will help us in this process. thank you. >> thank you. next speaker. good afternoon, supervisors. sean [speaker not understood], rba. supervisors, we all know and we have known for sometime that the system is flawed. but it is especially flawed for smaller builders, smaller contractors and homeowners. some level of ceqa reform is necessary. it's not unreasonable to seek a beginning, a middle, and all good things need to have an
end. right now there is no ending. i'd like to hit on two points. one, i'm glad to hear director ram mention about, a, an improved website. and if we can establish a clear beginning, then i think the next step is understanding and having a clear ending. but we understand it's difficult to have a clear ending if you don't have the clear beginning. so, i think that's a first good step. the second point i'd like to reiterate is what redmond just hit on, the multiple permits issued throughout the jobs and the debate between the first approval and the last approval. many of these permits are linked and it's not uncommon for someone to come at the end of the job and put an awning on or a fire permit permit, or something is not quite right. the inspector may ask you to go down and pull one more permit to show that the way it's written now, that would trigger the whole 30-day again on the
environmental appeal. most of the people -- certainly everyone in our industry is looking for a fair and transparent process. we don't see it unreasonable to have an open and fair transparent process at the beginning, a clear middle, and an ending based upon first approval so we can pull our construction loans, begin to build our projects, and focus on the next phases of our lives. thank you. >> thank you. supervisor. mr. chairman and president of the board chiu, and supervisor kim, john vargas. and a past member of [speaker not understood] president of the [speaker not understood] action committee. 40 years ago we had probably the first environmental lawsuit in san francisco against the university of california san
francisco. at that time [speaker not understood] and also the hospital building. at the conclusion of the negotiations, they had violated the ceqa. and the conclusion of our [speaker not understood], the housing in the sunset, let's say several blocks, as well as a lot of restrictions we impose on future expansion of the campus. but most important at the dedication of the dental school building, they thank the community for the taking -- for challenging the project and for bringing many impacts [speaker not understood] and therefore they had a much more improved project and much better [speaker not understood] balance with the community. as a former supervisor, i would
urge that at this time you have -- respect the fact that one of your colleagues is proposing [speaker not understood] that might add to what is being proposed here and could add much to the dialogue that needs to take place and would hope that the committee would take its initiative to supervisor chiu to move that we have this continued and have it be considered with supervisor kim's legislation so we can [speaker not understood]. thank you. >> thank you very much. is there any additional public comment? seeing none, public comment is closed. [gavel] >> colleagues, the matter is in the hands of the committee. i will note that the clerk of the board of the supervisors
requested a minor amendment of interest to the clerk in terms of processing of appeals. i will just briefly note them. one is to add on page 29 line 14 before the term the clerk of the board of supervisors may reject the following, quote, the clerk of the board may have three days from the time of the submittal to check the package for validity and completeness. if validated, [speaker not understood] from provisional acceptance. second amendment requested by the clerk on page 30 line 6, to put back a sentence that is currently removed. quote, if more than one person submits a letter of appeal, the board shall consolidate such appeals so that they are heard simultaneously. and then finally, requested by the clerk on page 30, line 13,
to add the words, appellant, comma, and after members of the public and before, quote, reparties in interest or city agencies sponsoring. so, those are the requests of the clerk of the board. so, colleagues, any comments? supervisor kim. >> thank you. wanted to appreciate all the members of the public that came out today. i thought it was a really good dialogue and discussion on multiple perspectives around what we can do to reform ceqa and also showcases how passionate i think members of the city are on the merits of the current process and what we can do to reform it. i did also want to commend supervisor wiener and his office because i know he has been working on this for many months and has been pointed out by our former president, this initiative of reforming ceqa has been taken on by several
supervisors to no avail yet. i do want to respect that this is the legislation that is before us today, and tomorrow i will have an opportunity to speak more at length on the legislation that we are introducing tomorrow. and i do look forward to all the members that are here today in terms of their comments and feedback on our [speaker not understood] currently supporting supervisor wiener's legislation. just a couple of things. i think that there is general agreement in the room that we need a timeline, a clear appeal window that is generally known to everyone in the public, whether it be the developers, the builders, or members of the community or the neighborhood. and i hope that whatever comes out at the end of this is that we are able to address that very issue. but i think the question is, of course, when does that appeal window toll, when does that begin. and i think that kind of debate that we're having here today and i think that it would
really behoove the board in order for us to fully vet two different concepts in terms whatv that appeal window should look like. second, i think there is general agreement in the room we need better notification. and, so, i think there is a question in terms of how little or how much, how much is done. and this legislation, how much more can we do in a different perspective of what ceqa reform looks like. i'm really looking forward to what the planning department has already been working on apparently for a couple of years in terms of improving the notification process. that could vastly change, then, the discussion around what needs to be included in the legislation. when that's fully vetted i think we'll have maybe a better place. but since it's not in place yet i think this is a conversation that we have to have. so, here are my thoughts just on the current legislation. one, i think dealing with negative declarations and exemptions are important. however, i think many members of the public have stated that it went a little too far in also changing how we formally
deal with full-blown environmental impacts reviews or the appeals of those certifications. and i think that, that for me i agree with that as well. i think that we should leave that as is, and that's not a process that we need to touch. second, the question on the speed by which we make these reforms by which we decide these row forms. putting aside large e-i-rs, on average we hear six appeals of exemptions or negative declarations. and keep in mind that we approve over 5,000 exemptions. so, i do think we have a little bit of time to further discussion what this reform process looks like. clearly we haven't set a deadline yet for exemptions and negative declarations and we need to. but looking at least over the last three years of the appeals that have come to the full board, it's not the crazy run away problem that we hear of. that being said for those few
projects that do get appeals, i completely understand the pain that has caused some of those individuals. many of whom that cannot afford to be a part of that process and hopefully through this reform discussion, we will be able to better address that. the second that i brought up earlier that we do need better notification and posting practices to increase transparency. i don't think a website is enough. the vast majority projects exemptions that are not historic, therefore, don require a hearing will not be noticed. and that is l 5% of our approval. ~ 85%. so, we need noticing for potentially historic projects. that does not stop projects. it requires notification. it doesn't stop the stamping or delay the projects. it requires us to notice it to members of the neighborhood and community when such a project is being planned. third, the first approval i think that's come up a couple of times. i think for me personally, i
still am having trouble wrapping my head around the first approval. it's a little bit confusing to me and i think to the average layperson because it changes according to the type of project. sometimes it's the first permit. sometimes it's after the initial appealed planning commission. sometimes it's after certification. and in the vast majority of projects, the first approval will be a permit that is not noticed. so, this requires the general public to pay really close attention to permits being issued in order to determine when the appeal window begins. that's why i think that there are other perspectives on when we should do that. fourth, another issue that come up in this legislation is project approvals during appeals. i know there are two perspectives on this issue, but i do think that if we have an appeal pending before the board that we shouldn't have approvals move forward because it is if by any chance, and this rarely happens that we decide to reverse that appeal,
~ then boards and other commissions have wasted a significant amount of time going through an approval process for a project that wasn't going to be supported. and also i worry, and this has happened numerous times where we hear from project sponsors or from departments or staff saying, well, we've already done all of this work. how can you overturn this now? so, i do think there is some validity in stopping the approval process during the appeal by itself. the last thing i'll say is that, of course, i support the comments that were made. i do hope that we will be able to consider both legislations at the same time. i know that our legislation came several months later after supervisor wiener had introduced his. and i just wanted to say that actually i was fairly reluctant to kind of enter into the ceqa reform discussion for many of the reasons that have already been expressed by members of the public.
but i think after many folks and parties in this room engaged in the outreach process that supervisor wiener's office had put forward, that there were just a different perspective that people felt was really needed to be put forward in this policy making process and they wanted that perspective to be put out. and, so -- and these also include individuals that i've probably frustrated in the past through many other appeals where we stood on other side to reach out to each other. i feel it important of how we perform ceqa to could be represented so there could be die lag and debate how the final reform should look like. so, that is my comments for today and i hope there will be support for a motion to continue this item. thank you. >> president chiu. >> thank you. and first of all i want to echo the thanks to all the members of the public. there are a lot of folks on both sides of this issue who i think we all deeply respect. we have labor unions on both sides of this question. we have housing advocates on
both sides of this issue, neighborhood associations on both sides and supervisorial colleagues who have some difference of opinion on this. as i said in my opening remarks, i do think that we need to pass legislation to set clear rules on categorical exemptions and negative declarations. that was the basic goal of the legislation, and i think everyone in this room shares that goal. i also want to appreciate the work that supervisor wiener has done to get to this point. i think we're getting close, but i don't necessarily think we're there yet. over the last couple of weeks i spent a lot of time trying to distill what i think are remaining issues in conversations with both supporters and opponents of this legislation. and what i'd like to do as supervisor kim has just down is outline some of these issues so both our colleagues and the community have a sense of where i hope the legislation will go to. ~ done if you can pardon me, i'll get into the devils of the details here. first on the issue of whether and how the board acts as a
ceqa decision maker, there is a question of whether the full board or whether a three-person committee ought to be taking public comment. and i want to just state my perspective on that. i think the status quo should continue. i think the full board should have the benefit and undergo the deliberation of full public comment. and on the broader issue of whether there should be changes to the appeals procedure for full e. -i-rs as i said earlier, i don't see a need to change e-i-r appeals changes procedures. cpmc for one showed us that process works ~ and i hope we can move forward legislation that respects that. secondly, i want to address the issue of the [speaker not understood] standard. there have been questions raised about the legal standard of whether we have a substantive evident standard or fair argument standard. i think state law is clear. i think supervisor wiener would appreciate and agree with that and i think we need to make it clear the fair argument standard ought to be applied in
every instance of this legislation. third on the issue of notice, we did have a discussion earlier this afternoon about requiring noticing on the website with searchable tools for the public. i think that's critical whether or not you're talking about first or final approval as the trigger for appeals. and it's important to me and i had a brief conversation with director ram about this, that we ensure that that notice is up and running before this legislation goes into effect so that everyone has notice even for over the counter type permits. fourth, there is a question around documentation for appeals and there is some language that suggested that all documents needed to be submitted with the appeal, which also has not been our practice. i am fine again with continuing the status quo. and then on the fundamental issue of first approval versus final approval as i said earlier in my comments, i do think that the two approaches that have been proposed, neither of them are completely satisfying to me. if you rely on the final approval, there is still i
think all sorts of opportunities for mischief and we have many examples of that. on the other hand relying on first approval, we know that projects do change over time. and as i said before, i'm interested in thinking about language that could really clarify the process for our environmental review officer to see if the project has been substantially modified. these issues that i've just laid out, these are the ones that have jumped out to me the last couple weeks. obviously there are others. still open to hearing them, but i want to highlight these for our colleagues to consider and for folks who are working on this to also think as well. now, my understanding is there are many that want us to pass this recommendation, to pass this legislation with recommendation today. i'm not prepared to do that. i very much appreciate the six months' work that have gone into this legislation, the fact that supervisor wiener has incorporated dozen of amendments from dozens of meetings. and i also want to say that i think the suggestion that supervisor wiener has been
somehow ramroded this legislation through does not sit with me. i think we do need to bring in some more amendments and i think we need a little bit of time for that. that being said on the other hand, i don't want to see a long delay on this legislation as i think some supporters of the other version might want to see, but did have an opportunity to review the first version of supervisor kim's legislation which was provided to me by the community coalition working on this. and as i gave them the feedback privately, i'll say this publicly. there were a number of i think many elements of that legislation that seem to impact issues well beyond providing clarity around the process involving categorical exemptions and negative declarations and i just want to say that for me, ideas that go beyond that modest subject that i think we should be tackling are not ideas that i'm likely to support in a short period of time. when i sat down with the leadership of the coalition that worked on supervisor kim's version, i was told that we
could hopefully likely work through these issues over the next two weeks and assuming supervisor kim's legislation was introduced tomorrow as to form, i plan to waive our typical 30-day rule around that because many of these issues have already been discussed in many forums and i don't want that time period to be a hurdle to our consideration. and, so, what i'd like to propose, colleagues, is a two week continuance of this matter to give time to craft amendments as i've just described to supervisor wiener's legislation to address some of these issues and to see if there are any other ideas for language from supervisor kim's legislation that are worth importing. so, that's what i would like to propose. >> supervisor kim? >> thank you. so, we will be introducing the legislation [speaker not understood]. i do want to thank our city attorney's office for working so expeditiously on the legislation so we were able to do that. i do have a question. i know that even if you were the 30-day hold, our legislation must go before the planning commission and historic preservation commission.
[speaker not understood] in order to be considered by this boyd? >> i believe that john ram with the planning department. this is part of the admin code, it technically is not required to go to them. >> [inaudible]. >> i'm sorry, i apologize. it's required to go to the historic preservation commission because it has preservation matters. [speaker not understood]. the commission has 90 days after introduction. in the case of the admin code it's 30 days. so, we would have to take it to the i think the first time we get it to the hpc would be may 1st for those comments. >> a question difficult discuss with director ram before this hearing was it's my hope that your staff will be able to analyze this over the next two weeks to provide us with at least your initial guidance and your thoughts -- >> we can certainly do that. but i do have -- i'm reminded of the fact that